In some traditions, church services end with a benediction. These words of blessing can be highly meaningful. And to many, what they mean is, “Oh, good. We’re almost done. Time to get my real day started.”
Too bad. We could really use those words to frame how we approach the day.
Here again are the words of Paul’s benediction at the end of Second Corinthians: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Cor 13:13, NRSV). He signs off with these words while writing to a contentious church. How might that benediction change the way the people think and live, if they were to take it seriously?
Imagine that a brother or sister has said something to offend you. Now you’re spoiling for a fight. You’re going to “correct” them, for their own “good.”
But then you pause, take a deep breath, and say to yourself, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us.” What changes?
Maybe you think, “The Jesus who died so that I could have the grace I so desperately needed is also the Lord of my life.” Or maybe you think, “God is a God of love, and it’s God’s desire that my life reflect that.” Or perhaps you even look at the other and think, “I can focus on what we share in common rather than what divides us.”
Would that make a difference in what you say next, and how you say it?
So, yes, I’m suggesting that when another Christian offends you, think of Paul’s benediction before you respond. All right, I’ll say it: be the benediction.
Who does that, really? Maybe no one. But imagine what might happen if we did.